Holocaust Memorial Day: Islington ‘remembers the atrocities of genocides throughout history’
PUBLISHED: 17:26 29 January 2019
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor shared his harrowing experiences with schoolchildren in the Islington Assembly Hall on Monday.
Harry Spiro’s daughter, Tracey Moses, was among speakers at the council’s event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, which also paid tribute to victims of the Rawandan and Cambodian genocides.
Attendees heard how 10-year-old Harry and his family were forced into a ghetto after the Nazi’s invaded his native Poland in 1939 – his family were among those taken to Treblinka extermination camp to be murdered in 1942.
Speaking after the event, Tracey Moses said: “Even after the horrors he endured, my father still thinks of himself as a lucky man. As he says, ‘its not where you start in life, it’s where you finish – and I have finished very happily’.
“My father always taught us that if you’re living with hate, you’re only hurting yourself. How can you live your own life if you’re always hating others?”
Harry was moved between labour camps, including Buchenwald and Rehmsdorf in Germany, before eventually being forcibly marched to Terezín (Theresienstadt) in Czechoslovakia.
Of the 3,000 prisoners who began the march, only 270 survived.
Soviet soldiers later liberated Harry, and he came to Britain in 1945 as part of the group of teenage boys and girls who came to be known as ‘The Boys’.
Harry opened up a shop in Holloway in the 1980s specialising in men’s suits, and ran it until he retired, aged 80.
Other speakers included council leader Richard Watts, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry.
Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Islington Council’s community development chief, whose grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, said: “Few of us can imagine what it actually means to be torn from home – to lose all sense of comfort and safety, to lose family, to lose absolutely everything you know.
“This year, as we remember the atrocities of the Holocaust and all genocides throughout history, we reflect on the continuing difficulties survivors face when they try to find new homes.
“For some, this means rebuilding in a place full of traumatic memories, and for others, it can mean setting up in an unfamiliar place, trying to find a place amongst strangers. That is why it is so important that we welcome people feeling violence into our communities with open hearts and offer the support they need to build new lives, and a safe home.”
The event was accompanied by music from the World Harmony Orchestra, whose musicians include refugees from around the world.